Press Releases

DelBene Calls for Opioid Addiction Recovery Funding

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Washington, DC, March 29, 2017 | comments

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in writing to the House Appropriations Committee, urging appropriators to fund the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to address the opiate and heroin addiction crisis.

“The opioid epidemic is having a devastating impact on public health and safety across the United States,” the letter stated. “As you begin consideration of the [Fiscal Year] 2018 appropriations bill, we hope that you will recognize the significance of the epidemic in our midst and support the comprehensive framework of CARA. Doing so would provide the resources and incentives necessary for states and local governments to expand treatment, prevention and recovery efforts for the millions of Americans who are affected by addiction.”

Opioids kill 144 Americans every day. Since 2000, drug overdose deaths have increased by 137 percent.

When CARA came before the House last year, DelBene amended it to expand community-based substance use diversion programs sponsored by a law enforcement agency, such as Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. Since LEAD started in 2011, criminal recidivism rates have been reduced among participants by as much as 60 percent, according to a University of Washington study. The final bill signed by President Obama in July also promotes programs to combat prescription opioid abuse and increase availability of Naloxone, a lifesaving drug used to treat overdose.

Reps. Tom McArthur (R-NJ) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) led the letter. Full text follows:

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

As you know, the opioid epidemic is having a devastating impact on public health and safety across the United States. According to the CDC, drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans aged 25 to 64. More than 144 Americans die as a result of overdose every day. While addiction is a treatable disease, only about ten percent of those who need treatment get it.

That is why we are writing to express our strong support for funding in FY18 for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), authorized in three subcommittees:

  • Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act, $115 million
  • Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act, $60 million
  • Financial Services Appropriations Act, $5 million

We know from researchers, the law enforcement community, and treatment providers that the most effective way to address the challenges posed by addiction is to initiate a comprehensive response to the twin epidemics of opioid and heroin addiction.  Designed to respond both to today’s heroin and opiate epidemic and tomorrow’s threats, this bill is a comprehensive response to substance use disorders that includes prevention, law enforcement strategies, addressing overdoses, expansion of evidence-based treatment, and support for those in, or seeking, recovery.  

Among other provisions, CARA would expand:

  • Prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin.
  • The availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders. 
  • Treatment -- resources to promptly identify and treat individuals suffering from addiction disorders in the criminal justice system.
  • Disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
  • Evidence-based addiction treatment and intervention programs to expand best practices throughout the country.
  • Medication assisted treatment demonstrations nationwide.
  • Veterans Treatment Courts to expand evidence-based treatment and peer-to-peer services. 

As you begin consideration of the FY2018 appropriations bill, we hope that you will recognize the significance of the epidemic in our midst and support the comprehensive framework of CARA.  Doing so would provide the resources and incentives necessary for states and local governments to expand treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts for the millions of Americans who are affected by addiction.

Only through a comprehensive approach that leverages evidence-based law enforcement and health care services, including treatment – like that clearly articulated by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act – can we stop and reverse current trends.

Thank you for your consideration of this important funding request.

Sincerely,

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